House of Lords Select Committee reaffirms and strengthens support for charitable status

The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee today released Breaking News, the final report for its Inquiry into the Future of Journalism.

The report, which concludes with a section articulating unequivocal support for charitable status for journalism notes that “[m]any witnesses in our current inquiry suggested that the Charity Commission should take a more expansive approach to charitable status for public interest news organisations” and that there was “wide agreement on the benefits that charitable status would provide among news organisations.”

The report also welcomes the Charity Commission’s own recent statement – when awarding charitable status to the Public Interest News Foundation – that

“public benefit of public interest journalism is evidenced by the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications and Digital Committee (in its inquiry into the future of journalism) and the Cairncross Review (in its report on the sustainable future for journalism)”

Charity registration decision: Public Interest News Foundation (22 September 2020)

Drawing on work and submissions from PBJRC trustees and allies, as well as from many other contributors and witnesses, the Committee’s report is careful in weighing up the evidence and analysis on charitable status, and concludes by saying it “encourage[s] the Charity Commission to continue to recognise public interest journalism as a charitable purpose.”

Dame Frances Cairncross is cited in the report that she believes that further test cases, from actual journalism providers, will be needed to help more clearly establish the parameters of what is and what is not charitable. If you are aware of current or potential test cases, please do get in touch, as we are documenting these as part of our research.

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